Sunday, 3 January 2016

#PWC2016 Admin

So you have signed up, you have been birding and you have scored some points. But how many? And are the boundaries you have decided upon within the rules? How do you record your score? What is this fabled spreadsheet? How do you send your scores in and how often? Here we will answer all of these commonly asked questions. There are no silly questions and we forget how alien this all is after 3 years of Patchwork Challenge so it is good to revisit the fundamentals.

How do I sign up? If you are viewing this on a mobile device you will have to scroll to the bottom of the blog and click on web view which should magically make the right sidebar appear. Once you are in Web view on the right hand side there is a form (actually as this is written there are two) - fill in the one which is titled Patchwork Challenge 2016 registration. We need to know your name and your patch name. We dont need any other personal details like email address or shoe size as we dont want superfluous information that could cause data protection issues. If you know your minileague fill this in, if not put the closest town or your county and whether you are inland or coastal. If you arent going to use a car then tick Green and if you are under 25 you are welcome to join our Next Gen Birders/A Focus on Nature minileague. Hit submit and we have your data. Thats it.

Mobile view 

Are my boundaries ok? How big can my patch be? You are allowed up to 3km2 for your patch and this can be any shape but with qualifications. Yes it can be a long wiggly line or two close sites linked by a corridor or an irregular splodge. What it cant be is a disperate spiderweb in order to capture a number of sites over a wider area. A patch should be an area you can work without driving within it. As you can count birds at sea when this isnt mapped we feel that you shouldnt have to map waterbodies and you should be able to count all birds seen from or in your patch. Don't map lakes, reservoirs, rivers or the sea. Do think about whether it is a cohesive patch. If you decide to change your boundaries without a good reason (windfarm/housing estate/change in access) then you wont be able to use a comparative score (more on that later). If you want us to check your boundaries then email us at There are mapping tools here.

Radde's Warbler - Tommy Corcoran
Go birding. As often as you want. We strongly encourage you use Birdtrack to record your sightings in order to give them conservation value and it provides a personal database for your data. There will likely be a prize for the most Birdtrack complete lists submitted.

Little Stint - Henry Cook
When you get home you need to enter new species seen into the Scoresheet. You need to download this and open it in Excel for the macros to work. This you fill in with the species name in the species column, the date and if it is a 3 point or better bird and you found it then put an f in the find column. There are some odd subspecies rules which we regret ever introducing but for a roundup look here and here. You will have to add subspecies points manually but aside from this the spreadsheet tallies your species and points for you. Before you ask about something obscure or White Wagtail/Taiga Bean Goose/Greenland White-front/Pale-bellied Brent Goose then the answer is no - they are too common as is Scandi Rock Pipit. The subspecies needs to be on the list on the second link or a RIACT subspecies. If you are having trouble entering a species name try using the second tab (and note the idiosyncratic way Feral Pigeon is listed). Once again - if you have problems then email us.

Wryneck - Scott Mayson
How do I submit my score and how often? At the moment we take scores monthly with a submission form similar to the registration form which asks for number of species, points, birdtrack lists, highlights and any bonus points you scored in the month. Points are cumulative as are birdtrack lists. We need your total score and not what you added in the month. The form is normally on the blog from the 25th of the month until the 5th of the following month so approximately 11 days. We then process it and scores start coming out a few days later as we write articles.We normally have a monthly best find round up on the blog and a magazine article on Birdguides which both come out in the third week of the month. Finally it will all be changing once the coding is finished for our new website which has just finished beta testing. This should be in the first quarter but our coder is a busy boy so we don't have a concrete time frame yet. When this is up and running the scoresheet will underpin recording although it wont look like it and we hope to have live league tables so that you can affect how they appear on a day to day basis as you find birds.

Perhaps the rarest bird on the page. The Askernish Magpie - Ian T.
Finally what are the comparative scores? This is our way of comparing Fair Isle to Fairburn, North Ronaldsay to North Duffiels and Titchwell to Titchfield. For those new to the competition dont worry about them as we need a benchmark year within competition (effort levels tend to go up in competition so previous benchmarks aren't usually valid as we found out in #PWC2013). Your comparative score is expressed as a percentage of your average score. The average score is the rolling 3 year mean of scores within competition so some of the original patchers are using their 2013 score for the last time.

Any other questions not answered above please feel free to e-mail or message us on social media (we have a Facebook Group and account  and also a Twitter account @patchbirding. We will be sure to respond quickly. Otherwise, go birding!


  1. Has does the found bird work?
    Do you have to be the first person to see it or do you have to simply find it for yourself?
    Also are you allowed to include birds that you saw, but couldn't identify? Gulls are my achilles heel and I often have to get them idd on
    Do I need to identify the bird myself, or can I take an ID from a photo I took and failed to recognise?

    1. Hi Darran, I addressed most of the bits and pieces on the FB group but if you find something and cant ID it you would still get the points as you found it. Also if you play a significant part in the identification you may take the points. For bonus points you are looking at birds such as Bonaparte's Gull, Ring-billed Gull and rarer.

  2. On the basis there are no silly questions I understand we can include Feral Pigeons?

    Thanks ~ Mike Robinson ...

  3. Absolutely - it's in as Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon or something. It's in the second tab if you can't find the exact spelling.